Writing Progress Report

I’m going to try to do monthly-ish writing progress reports (they may happen every month or every 3 weeks or every 5 weeks, one just never knows with me).  This is where I’m at now:

  • Terrorific Tales has published in ebook form and the paperbacks are in progress.  Just waiting on the final edits from my editor.  It has one Amazon review…
  • Triggered Reality is with the editor.  I have her notes on Eric Clachan’s story and am now awaiting her notes on the other serial killer story in it.
  • Flawless Dreams is about half done and I suspect I will send it to the editor the first week of April.  I am planning May release.
  • Movement in the Shadows has one story done.  So far, it is making me broaden my writing horizons.
  • Death Demon Trilogy Book 1:  Legacies Awakened has six chapters done.  These are the continuation of the Brenna Strachan novels and will center on an adult Callie Strachan.
  • The next Dysfunctional Chronicle has begun to take shape in my head.
  • Ritual Dreams has a plot and a serial killer.  I’ll begin work on it pretty soon (after I finish Flawless Dreams).
  • The second Reality book doesn’t have a title, but will feature the character stories for Brent Timmons, aka the Tallahassee Terror, and Turkish Jack.

How To Help A Writer

Imagine this:

You go to buy a book and although it’s been out four years, it has 25 reviews.  Now, the reviews are mostly good, but still, that’s not many.  Obviously, no one buys it, so do you?

That’s the problem I have.  I have sold or given away 4,500 copies of The Dysfunctional Affair this year.  One percent came back and bought The Dysfunctional Valentine.  That means that this year, 45 copies of The Dysfunctional Valentine has been purchased…

And yet, The Dysfunctional Affair has only 25 reviews on Amazon and The Dysfunctional Valentine has 13 reviews on Amazon.

When I run an advert for The Dysfunctional Chronicles, I have very low downloads and it’s because it has so few reviews.  Imagine if the 45 people that bought Valentine had left reviews for Affair.  The downloads when I run an ad would be much better, even if the reviews were a mix of good and bad.

I’ll give you a better example of how reviews sell books:

I ran a huge ad for Tortured Dreams when it had 56 reviews.  I got almost 4,000 downloads and thought it was fantastic.  Then I did a huge drive and got it to over 100 reviews.  I ran an advert with the same email company 8 months later and had over 12,0000 downloads.  The last time I ran with them, I had over 200 reviews and had over 20,000 downloads…

This is the other reason the Strachan Series and The Dysfunctional Chronicles do not sell well.  I can get the downloads of book 1 for both series, but since neither books 1 nor books 2 have many reviews, I can’t convince people to separate with their hard earned cash to buy the second book.  Let alone any of the others.

And as much as no one wants to admit it, people don’t shop Goodreads.  So leaving a review there is nice, but it doesn’t help sell books.  People add books to their “I want” list, but putting that into practice… well, it falls a little flat because they go to wherever they buy books, see the low number of reviews and change their minds.

I know this is part of the problem because readers tell me about it.  The most recent was this:

I loved Dark Cotillion, but when I went to buy Dark Illumination it had so few reviews that I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to the first.  After six months, I did eventually buy it and I loved it.  I don’t know why it doesn’t have more reviews.  Do you need to market it more?

Marketing it more doesn’t help.  I market it all the time, but I have very few downloads because I have very few reviews.  So I’m just throwing money away until I can get the reviews needed to sell it.  The Dysfunctional Affair has been liked enough by 1,200 people that they bought The Dysfunctional Valentine so it should have at least 100 Amazon reviews… and yet, it has 25.

This is why I’m talking to readers about writing reviews if they like, love, or hate a book.  It’s how I sell books.  It’s how other authors sell books.  Stephen King didn’t become a Times Bestseller by having a handful of reviews for The Stand.

The most common responses are I don’t read reviews and I don’t know how to write a review.  The problem with both of those is that reviews are necessary, unless you are going to stand next to every potential buyer and tell them how much you enjoyed the book.  I don’t read reviews and until people started figuring out my Amazon user name, I always left reviews.  Writing one is easy: I loved (hated, liked) this book because the characters were (entertaining, annoying, hard to connect with) or The plot was (fast paced, boring, confusing) and kept me (interested, disinterested, shaking my head).  Viola! Done.

Also, if you love a series, don’t review just the first book.  Review a handful of them or review the ones that were your favorite.  Or review every odd number in the series or every even numbered book in the series.

Reviews where you bought the ebook is the best way that any reader can help any author.

The Dysfunctional Chronicles – An Explanation

I’m not all that surprised the stories don’t sell well.  There’s no real romance, no long lingering looks, no tender caresses.  It’s not a typical romance.

But it’s almost there.  I’ve had people offer to put these elements into the series.  Give it a sizzle so that it sells, but that’s not the point of them.

It’s also not a typical mystery story.  There’s a touch of mystery.  But the crime is just the focal point to move the stories along.

The point of the stories is family; the good, the bad, and the comical.  Because the one thing Tolstoy and I agree about is that every family is dysfunctional in its own unique way.

I have always despised the picture of the happy, normal family.  What makes me happy and what I consider normal is very different from the next person’s.  Each of us has blood family and we have chosen family.  We just accept these people no matter how insane they are.

That’s the point of The Dysfunctional Chronicles.

Consider your first “real” friends.  Were they cousins?  A sister or brother?  Your mom’s best friend’s child?  Or maybe your dad’s best friend’s child?  Chances are good that they were, because as children, these are the only “other” children we get introduced to… Even the days of daycare.

Now, think about your relationship with your mother, your father, your siblings.  What are they like?  Do you love them but not necessarily always like them?  Do you occasionally wonder how they tie their shoes or how you managed to grow up to be so normal?  Chances are good, you’ve had those moments.

The three girls are the basis for the blood family.  The three guys are the basis for the chosen family.  Ivan, Melina, Telisa, cousin Katya, these are characters that we love, hate, wonder how they tie their shoes in the morning… On the surface, they seem normal, but when you start spending some time with them, you realize that they are a lot of things and normal probably isn’t one of them.

That’s why they only get stories when something “big” is about to happen… A wedding, a baby, a honeymoon, some situation that throws the entire universe out of whack for at least a few moments for a family.  These are the moments that test our bonds.

I’m not at all disappointed in how the series sells.  Most people try too hard to pigeon hole a genre for a book and they miss the point.  It’s why symbolism from classics is not appreciated by the majority of modern readers.  I find those that do love The Dysfunctional Chronicles at some level identify the significance of symbology.

They are more than a love story.  They are more than a crime story.  They are more than a mystery.  They are more than a humorous tale.  Unfortunately, most people who write about family do it in a dramatic way.  That’s the point of drama.  I don’t.  I look at the comedy of family.

For instance, I spent a lot of years being blamed for the behavior of one of my cousins.  When I would babysit, he would steal packs of cigarettes from my aunt and uncle.  I could have argued it, but I wouldn’t have been believed, after all, I was older than him and I smoked.  What they failed to realize was that I hated menthol cigarettes, which is what they smoked, and their kid wasn’t stealing them to smoke them, he was trading them for things at school.  I found it entertaining because it was either be amused or strangle someone over it and I don’t think I’d do very well in jail or prison.

All too often, we only think about our families in serious ways.  It’s why dramatic family stories sell so well.  But my family reminds me daily that there is a lot of humor in being family.  Oh the stories I could tell about my cousins… They make me smile just thinking about them.

And that is one trait that I honestly share with Nadine Daniels.  I don’t always like every member of my family, they can make me crazy in ways that no one else can.  But at the end of the day, they are my family.

More Reprieve

Since the country is still in upheaval from the election and it’s going to take a while to sort it out and get everyone calmed down, here’s another distraction.  The first chapter and a half of The Dysfunctional Wedding – unedited…

Chapter 1 Prologue

Some years ago, I realized my life was the Universe’s idea of a practical joke. For a long time, the thought depressed me. Then I realized that I was not the only one the Universe found entertaining.

Chapter 2 Burning Down The House

When I was ten, my younger brothers Vlad and Devlin were outside building a fort when the fort collapsed. The two came into the house screaming the walls down. My parents being the dutiful parents they were, rushed both boys to the ER and left me under the care of my brother, Ivan. I decided I wanted to do something nice for my brothers and decided to bake a cake. When I opened the pantry to get the cake mix, I found several bottles of water with a strange odor that was 16.9 ounces. The cake mix called for two cups of water, so I decided to use a bottle to keep from dirtying up a measuring cup on water. I’m still not sure what was in those water bottles. I do know that once I put the cake in our oven, something went terribly wrong. The cake burst into flames and within moments, the entire stove was also engulfed. It took less than a minute for it to catch the wall behind the stove on fire.

My parents returned from the ER to find Ivan, me, and my grandfather Leon, outside the house. There was much conversation that involved whispering and words in other languages between my mother and grandfather. I didn’t get in trouble, but the bottles of water disappeared and never reappeared.

The memory had hit me suddenly, as I stood on the street, nearly five hundred feet from Alex’s house. Her house, her lawn, the street, and a truck were all engulfed in flames. Someone had told us about ten minutes earlier that the truck was a jet fuel tanker, which explained why everything was on fire. The entire neighborhood had been evacuated as special fire fighting equipment was being brought in from Kansas City International Airport. However, we were all convinced that by the time the equipment arrived, everything Alex owned was going to be ash.

For most people, your cousin’s house burning to the ground via arson would be weird. My family isn’t most. I was more concerned about the fact that it was two-thirty in the morning and my mother was whispering, in Russian, to my grandfather, Leon, who hadn’t showed up at such a trivial event as a house burning, since that day when Ivan called him because my cake had spontaneously combusted. Even when a Russian crime lord had been in my house, threatening to kill my mother and me in slow and painful ways but ended up being foiled by poor attachment of a stove that burned down my house, my grandfather sent me a text message to check on us and it was the middle of the day.

“Shit, my dress was in there,” I mumbled.

“Mine too,” Kenzie answered. Kenzie was another cousin of mine. She was eight months pregnant with twin elephants or something equally large. She looked like she had swallowed a hot air balloon. Of course, no one said these things aloud because she was also hormonally distressed and could go from crying to throwing dishes in less than a blink of an eye. Her baby’s father, Anthony, a once very tough mercenary from Germany, was even worse. He was suffering from Couvade’s Syndrome, also known as Sympathetic Pregnancy. His doctor was starting to worry about him lactating.

“We’ll go get snacks.” She announced loudly. Anthony nodded and the two disappeared in the crowd. I wasn’t sure what sort of snacks went with arson, but Alex and Sebastian didn’t protest, so neither did I.

In less than two weeks, Alex was supposed to be married. I currently had six Great danes, three bobcats, Kenzie, and Anthony living with me, so my Maid of Honor’s dress and Kenzie’s bridesmaid’s dress were both being stored at Alex’s. Alex had a fourteen thousand dollar wedding dress. Not because she actually wanted a wedding dress that cost more than most cars, but because my mother wanted her to have a wedding dress that cost more than most cars and we were Russian. Russian weddings are similar to coronating royalty. It didn’t help that Grandfather Leon was a Russian Orthodox priest. This wedding was costing more than most people made in a year and that was exactly as everyone except the bride, groom, maid of honor, and bridesmaids wanted it. Alex had even had a few people decline to be bridesmaids because the dress was outrageously expensive.

Now, all three dresses would have to be remade, which meant they would also have to be paid for a second time. I was pretty sure arson wasn’t covered by the original dressmaking fee. Even if the dressmaker was a family member.


This weekend, there is a big to do going on in Springfield among the darters.  After much thought, I’m going to brave the three hour, one way, ride and go be amongst my friends. I’m going to socialize and for an overnight trip, the calendar filled up pretty fast.

We are planning to be there by 10 am.  My cousin/bestie lives there.  Our first stop is her house.  It’s been awhile since I saw her and she cheers me up.  So, I’m looking forward to that.

Then it’s off to grab some lunch.  I think this is just going to be my SO and I.  I figure by this time, I’ll be wanting to pop a pill or two.  When I hurt, I get very quiet or swear uncontrollably, so I’m not sure I’ll be up for company at that point.

Next we are heading to Bass Pro.  Bass Pro got it’s start in Springfield, Missouri.  It is still the largest store in the chain and they have specials and items that aren’t carried at most of their stores.  They also have an outlet.  If it goes like usual, we’ll spend a couple of hours in the two adjoined stores.

By then, we should be able to check into our room… Which I am personally looking forward to.  Rooms were a little scarce and while I like certain hotels over others due to pricing and amenities, we had to go with an upgraded hotel.  It’s a five star, which I don’t mind in the least, even with the price.  However, for a whopping $7 more, I could upgrade from a standard king room to a king room with a whirlpool.  I don’t normally do jetted tubs, I think of them as human stew.  With the way I’ve been feeling lately, I’m thinking a soak in a jetted tub might be kind of nice.

And a nap.  Pain makes me tired.  Riding causes pain.  I’m not really a morning person anyway and our evening is full.  Saturday will be a late night.  So a nap would be nice.

Then off to the dart parlor.  I’m not playing.  I’m planting my ass in a nice chair with a back and talking to people.  I’m also doing a hostage exchange:

wanderer This is Lola the Destroyer guarding a Wanderer Tote put out by Thirty-One Gifts (and bags).  It does not belong to me, but it was on special and I wasn’t using the special when I attended a 31 party in August.  My buddy Amy used the special to get it at half off (good deal by the way).  She gave me cash and it shipped to my house.

In September, a friend of ours became a 31 consultant and I placed an order at her launch party.  However, it didn’t ship to my house, it shipped to hers, in Springfield.  She won’t be around this weekend, so she gave my 31 order to Amy.  Negotiations were sketchy at times, but we finally worked out a deal… She’s getting her bag (plus a few extra goodies) and I’m getting my complete order.

My SO will of course be throwing darts at the event.  As I said, I’m going to sit in a comfortable chair and chat with people.  I’m looking forward to it, but I have some reservations.  I know it’s going to be hard on me.  But I really want to go.  So, we’ll see how I feel on Sunday and Monday.

In book related news, I need one chapter to wrap up The Dysfunctional Wedding.  Which is good, since I’m way past my deadline (it was yesterday… Sorry Krissy & Eliza).  I hope to finish it Sunday night.

Paperback Sale

In honor of my birthday, all my paperbacks are on sale in my Etsy shop.  Feel free to grab a couple.  I will warn that international shipping is incredibly expensive and I’m really really really really sorry about that.  The postal service no longer lets me ship media mail internationally, which makes me very sad.  😦

Paperbacks can be found here: Etsy!

Interesting Comments & Questions

I get a lot of questions in a week or a two because I try to make myself available to all my readers across multiple platforms.  However lately, they’ve been getting a little different and because my better judgment flew the coop, I’ve decided to compile some of them.

  • Do you practice these kills before you write about them to make sure it works? – Regarding the D&R novels and the answer is no, I don’t want to go to prison.
  • Is Nadine related to Jeff Daniels? – Regarding The Dysfunctional Chronicles.  I’m guessing since Jeff Daniels is a real person and Nadine Daniels is a fictional one, they are in no way related.
  • Do you worry that a serial killer will read your book and hunt you down to make you a statistic? – Regarding D&R novels.  I didn’t until this exact moment.  You don’t know where I live, right?
  • Am I going to enjoy this book? – Regarding Dark Cotillion.  Beats me.  Do you like long, rambling, urban fantasy novels with lots of backstory and demons?  If you answered yes!, you might enjoy it…  But I’m not going to guarantee it.
  • Why didn’t Sean and her have an affair? – Regarding the short story series in Tales to Read Before the End of the World.  Because then I wouldn’t have had the plot arc for the short story series.
  • I liked this short story, but it was too short.  What motivated the cat to hide in the closet?  How’d he get trapped once inside?  Why can’t the 12 year old grow up and go investigate?  Who leaves a 12 year old boy home alone? – Regarding flash fiction piece After Dark in Terrorific Tales.  This is not Schrodinger’s Cat.  It’s a normal pet cat.  It went into the closet because cats do that, there was no motivation.  And cats get trapped in things all the time; rooms, closets, jars, etc.  They are genetically predisposed to being stuck in things.  Why is leaving a 12 year old boy home alone a problem?  And why do you expect him to man up and check out creepy noises?
  • You have names wrong; Anubis was the Greek God of Love.  Astros was the Egyptian God of Death.  – Regarding the Brenna Strachan series.  I’m fairly certain that Astros is a baseball team in Houston and Eros was the Greek God of Love.
  • I feel bad for the lady that faked her vacation.  Does she have a GoFundMe page that I can donate to and help her have a real vacation? – Regarding a short story in Tales to Read Before the End of the World.  No, she doesn’t, it’s fiction.  Note to Self: Maybe I should set her up a GoFundMe page, I could use a vacation.
  • Why do your characters throw up when they have a migraine?  Why can’t they get diarrhea? – Regarding Aislinn Cain’s migraines in the D&R novels.  If I had to take a wild stab in the dark, I’d say it’s because vomit is easier to clean up and I don’t want to write scenes where Cain needs to change clothes because of anal leakage.
  • Why is there so much blood? – Regarding Fortified Dreams.  Because there are approximately 100 serial killers not to mention cops and other people in it.  I can’t have all 100 serial killers be stranglers.  Besides, this is book 11… they’ve all had blood in them.
  • Your characters shouldn’t smoke cigarettes, it promotes bad habits and poor health.  They should do something else, like smoke pot or drink cups of tea. – Regarding D&R.  Well, if they smoked pot, which is not legal in every state, they might go to jail and they probably wouldn’t catch as many serial killers.  With regards to drinking cups of tea, it’s really hard to sit down and brew a pot of tea when you’re staking out a house waiting for signs that you have a serial killer on your hands.  Also, Aislinn would break a ton of cups using them as weapons.  Plus, none of my characters should be role models.
  • I don’t remember hearing about this on the news.  Do you have the article? – Regarding Tortured Dreams.  Nope, because it’s fiction.
  • Asexual is the same as bisexual so why doesn’t Aislinn have a girlfriend/boyfriend? – Regarding D&R.  Because asexual is pretty much the antonym of bisexual, not the synonym.  I think you have the definition of asexual confused with something else.

Ok, back to work or something like it.




Sale & Making Progress

I’m finally making progress with The Dysfunctional Beginning, it required someone to give me a different perspective.

Innocent Dreams is being churned out at an amazing pace.

Fortified Dreams is with the betas and I’m anxiously awaiting feedback.  I will totally admit that I am more worried about this book than any of the previous.  It’s dark, sinister, and has a ton of characters, most of them serial killers.  While it wasn’t hard to write, I’m hoping it’s a crowd pleasure.

Legacies Awakened has purpose and a handful of chapters on it.  The Death Demon Trilogy is going to be darker than The Strachan Series.  And it required me to have a cup of tea with Satan to write the beginning (those on Facebook will get the joke).

Due to my stroke of luck in the writing department, I have decided to put some books on sale for the month of April:

  • Tortured Dreams & Elysium Dreams are both still free.
  • Mercurial Dreams, Explosive Dreams, & Cannibal Dreams are $0.99

Writing As A Job

Despite my pajamas and couch/recliner with a coffee table as an office, I do try to keep my writing time as professional as possible.  Since I’m about the least professional person I know, this amounts to logging my time.  I actually have an app where I can clock in and out and track my hours.

I actually track my hours differently, using codes to determine writing time, editing time, proofing, social networking, blog posts, writing exercises, and then miscellaneous for those things I don’t know how to catalogue.

Most of the time, the information is rather pedestrian.  I worked this many hours this week or that many hours that month.  Every once in a great while though, it shows me something phenomenal has happened.

In January, I wrote the majority of Fortified Dreams.  This isn’t really a big deal, I can write a book a month when I have my creativity cap on and my fingers on the keyboard like a good little writer.  What is a big deal, is that I wrote the majority of it in just 8.12 hours.

That might be a new record for me (no, Craig, I am still not a machine).  This averages out to about 7,000 words per hour.  I switched up and started working on some other stuff, so I didn’t finish it in January, I got distracted (we’ll talk about what by, later).  But I can’t help but wonder, if I had continued at that pace… Could I have actually written a novel in just 10 hours?  I find the possibility mind boggling.

Unfortunately, there were a ton of serial killers in Fortified Dreams (it does take place inside the walls of the Fortress).  Serial killers that had little to no backstory.  Killers I hadn’t known existed until I started writing the book.  These were things that I needed to know.  So, instead of finishing the novel that was almost done, I started writing these backstories (as short stories) for the purpose of fleshing out the monsters I had created.  Which lead to some interesting twists and might require some revision within Fortified Dreams, but I won’t know that for sure until I actually finish all the backstories and Fortified Dreams and do my read through.  Once I have that done, I’ll know if I need to change anything up.

It also lead me to write stories for Eric Clachan, Isabella Clachan, and a few other characters that may have an integral role in the lives of SCTU members (no spoilers though!).  This is why I started assembling the short story book Terrorific Tales.  Between all the writing exercises and all the short stories I’ve been putting down for myself… It seemed like a smart thing to do.  Besides, I needed some direction on the Dysfunctional Chronicles and I’m hoping some side stories with Alex & Kenzie can do that for me.  I could probably just do a book of shorts with serial killers & Alex/Kenzie, but I feel like these need breaks.  It would be too intense otherwise (I think).

Ok, off to do some writing!

Short Stories Project Part 2

Here’s the cover!  More great work by Angela with Covered Creatively!  In the next few weeks, I will have more information about the stories contained within this silly word-play title (which I love).

Terrorific Tales by Hadena James

Ms Not So Little Smarty Pants

In short, anything and everything

Plus Size Plus Meds

Weight Loss Adventure

Nerdy Fashionista

Fashion for those who love the Nerd Life

C Patt

A safe place for Paper Sisters to roam

Village Books

2513 Bernadette Dr, Columbia MO 65203 (573) 449-8637

Susan Finlay Writes

Mysteries and Suspense


It's going to be HUGE!

Maria63303's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Roger Radford Journalist & Author

Thrillers with a Twist

Characters in Progress

Developing character on the page and off

Me and my writing life

A blog about books, my ideas and what I've learned as I live life as a writer.

Not So Easy Breezy

Appreciating the hard things in life

Rachel Poli

I read. I write. I create.


more than one way to skin a cat


easy reading is damn hard writing


Finding The Write Direction Write Now

Jodie Jackson Jr. - Author

I wrote a book ...